Justise Winslow has become a star in this NCAA tournament, emerging as the difference-maker for a Duke team already loaded with several future pros. While Jahlil Okafor has demanded the spotlight for most of the year, Winslow has been cleaning up on the defensive boards, locking down on defense and generally playing barometer for the energy level of the 2015 Blue Devils.
Winslow has been the difference in Duke’s NCAA tournament run so far, providing those sparks at the right time to tilt a game in the Blue Devils’ favor, and against Utah he carried the offense on an otherwise quiet night for the No. 2 most efficient offense in the country.
Winslow, a Houston native, finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds in his homecoming game, making up for off nights from Okafor and Quinn Cook as No. 1 seed Duke defeated No. 5 seed Utah 63-57 Friday in a South Regional semifinal game in Houston.
“Justise really came through for us,” Mike Krzyzewski said to CBS’ Tracy Wolfson after the game. “These three games, he’s come up with some — points are important, but points in critical times are just as important. He’s come up with points in critical times for us.”
Duke will meet Gonzaga in the South Regional final on Sunday. It will be the Blue Devils’ second Elite Eight appearance in three years, trying to punch a ticket to the first Final Four since winning the national title in 2010.